William Shakespeare wrote, “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock” (Othello). Scripture makes it very clear that jealousy is a sin that destroys those who have it. It is able to control the desires and numb the mind. It is a sign that those who have it are not truly following the Lord. “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Corinthians 3:3). It must be defeated by all who follow Christ. “Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:26).
Love conquers all
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). When we set our minds on the things of this world, especially when we covet what others have, we soon find that we cannot serve the Lord as we should. If we loved God as we ought, then we would not break His commandments. “Thou shalt not covet …” (Exodus 20:17). In fact jealousy hardens our hearts towards God so that we cannot receive His blessings. “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matthew 13:15). If only we would allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives, what a difference He would make in us!
The flesh is determined to do everything that God forbids, but the way leads directly to Hell. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). God can turn all this around if we are willing for Him to work. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:22-26). We see then that the Holy Spirit can destroy an envious spirit.
Jealousy shows that we are not satisfied with the blessings God has already given and promised us. It therefore indicates that there is a lack of faith on our part, for it appears to us that He is blessing others more than us. Though we do not realise it at the time, engaging in jealousy is wicked since it has its roots in the darkness of Hell. “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying” (Romans 13:12-13). Jealousy makes us irrational about our circumstances and resentful towards those who have more than us. Jealousy is a seed that grows in the bed of selfishness.
The Bible teaches us to be content. “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). The way to defeat the sin of jealousy is to become more like Jesus and less concerned about ourselves and the things we do not have. We should study the Scriptures, pray and fellowship with mature believers. We ought to serve others so that we have less time to judge them or murmur against the Lord. Our lives will change and our outlook will be different. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).
As with all sin, jealousy must be avoided. This is obvious, but what about those who have an envious spirit? “He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:4-5). This seems harsh but let us not forget that where jealousy reigns other evils will be evident too. “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:14-16). Maybe we think that we can avoid becoming like our jealous friends, but in fact it is a virus that is able to infect everyone who spends time in its presence. “Who is able to stand before envy?” (Proverbs 27:4). Jealousy is always destructive. “For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one” (Job 5:2). We see then that it should be avoided wherever it is found.
Few people take any regard to jealousy today, even find it humorous when they see it in their children. Maybe in this technological age it is difficult to keep out of our thoughts. Do we think jealousy is no big deal or is it something that must be destroyed? God knows what we need, so our desires should be for a better relationship to Him. Our desires should be for spiritual growth, for helping others and being happy when our Christian friends do well. God blesses us everyday and gives to each of us as He wills and at the right time. As Christian’s each one of us have different needs, both physical and spiritual. God does not give us all the same things, but does give us exactly what He knows to be best for us. Remember we must aim to do God’s will rather than our own. The green-eyed monster can be annihilated by the one who “was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).